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Relations with neighbours. Gdansk and Sweden.

Due to a geographical proximity, Sweden has always played a crucial role in the history of Gdansk. What was it exactly? Learn more from the next article by prof. Andrzej Januszajtis.

Battle of Oliva was one the turning points in relations between Poland, Gdansk and Sweden
Battle of Oliva was one the turning points in relations between Poland, Gdansk and Sweden


In the 14th and 15th centuries, during periods of herring migrations, what is now Swedish (and previously Danish) Falsterbo in southern Skania would teem with merchants and fishermen from cities belonging to the Hanseatic League. An international camp was established on the isle of Skanor, offering all the necessary fishing equipment. New authorities were chosen every year, usually led by a person from Gdansk. In the 16th century, however, herring changed their migration routes, and Skanor became deserted as a result.

In 1373, Saint Bridget, a reformer and the founder of the Bridgettine order, passed away in Rome. Her body was transported to Sweden via Gdansk, where it was presented to the public. As a result, a monastery was founded in the city in 1396, third of its kind after the Saint’s home of Vadsten (1384) and the S. Maria di Paradiso Monastery near Florence (1395).

Saint Eric, or Eric Jedvardsson, Sweden’s co-ruler from 1150 and its sovereign ruler from 1155, organised crusades against the then-pagan Finland, built churches and strengthened the position of Christianity in his homeland. He was assassinated in 1160, and eventually canonised. His cult expanded beyond the Baltic Sea. In 1438, the Gdansk St Eric Brotherhood at the Carmelite Church in the Young Town district was established. Around that time, Bishop Nicholas of Uppsala funded a chapel dedicated to St Eric in St Bridget Church – which today serves as its sacristy.

In 1395, when a dispute was raging concerning who should rule Sweden, the Hanseatic cities made efforts to free Albrecht, King of Sweden, from being imprisoned by Margaret I, the Queen of Denmark, and vouched for him. Had he not paid his ransom before the deadline, Stockholm, whose residents were still loyal to him, would have become Danish. The Hanseatic fleet took over the city, and a Gdansk councillor, Herman von der Halle (along with one of the councillors of Lubeck) became the city’s commandant. After the ransom was paid, the Gdansk crew left the capital.

After 1598, King Sigismund III Vasa lost the Swedish throne and had to return to Poland. During that time, many of the Swedish officials who supported him settled in Poland, and some of them chose to live in Gdansk. They and their families left behind a number of epitaphs, among other things. Gabriel Posse, “free Baron of Helekys & Hamerskog, courtier of His Royal Majesty of Poland and Sweden, as well as a wartime commander of both His Royal and His Imperial Majesty”, funded three of them: one dedicated to his father in the Saint Mary Church, one to his wife and daughter in the Saint Bridget Church, and one in the Saint John Church to Jan Stork, a marine commander who died in a naval battle on 28 November 1627 near Oliwa.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), a Gdansk physicist and pioneer of thermometry who moved to Amsterdam, often received visits from a then-young Swedish scholar, the future creator of biological taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778).